CalMatters: A Focus on Injustice, Inequity in Public Education Must Drive California’s Budget Priorities



By Cristina de Jesus, CEO of Green Dot Public Schools California

The past months have been a time of exceptional change and challenge for Green Dot Public Schools – as they have for most organizations, families and communities.

The weight of responsibility we have felt during this worldwide crisis combined with the widespread disparities in the communities we serve have brought our mission into greater focus.

As we always knew, the teaching we provide in the classroom is critical, but alone it is not nearly enough to bridge the persistent inequities our students and their families face each day.

We have seen these inequities in the faces of families lacking healthy food – since the pandemic closed schools, we have served more than 600,000 meals. The digital divide is all too real for our families – we distributed Chromebooks to nearly three-quarters of our 11,200 students and provided 2,500 hotspots to students without reliable, high-speed Internet.

These numbers are staggering, reflecting the need across California. The pandemic has laid starkly bare the persistence of the divide that cleaves our society and how nefarious its effects are on our health, our employment, where we live and, yes, our interactions with police. All too often, the divide repeats from generation to generation.